Improving the outcome of pregnancy continues to be a global objective among health scientists, and more scientists today recognize that nutrition can prevent certain congenital anomalies. Nutrition also plays an important role in improving survival of low birth weight and extremely premature infants. In addition, proper nutritional care before and after conception can reduce health risks and may improve the outcome of pregnancy. And appropriate nutritional care during the neonatal period and beyond may reduce morbidity and mortality. Although there are numerous texts and monographs dedicated to nutrition in infancy, a comprehensive treatise on the role of nutrition during the perinatal period, including preconception, is not readily available. This book focuses on the importance of the placenta as an organ in nutrition, aberrations in utero-placental function, the role of macro- and micronutrients in the prevention of congenital anomalies, and the role of nutrition in preventing morbidity in the neonatal period and in infancy. This book has three main objectives:  to examine the mechanisms and actions of nutrients in fetal development and its aberrations;  to examine the role of nutrients in the prevention of adverse pregnancy outcome; and  to outline current practices in infant nutrition along with evidence that exists for the formulation of these recommendations. This book was written for nutritional scientists and health care professionals who work with the perinatal patient.
Our future is determined by our past. This statement truly describes the health of today’s adults, for many diseases have their origins during early embryonic, fetal, and perinatal development. Nutrition is so important to this process that one must look to the nourishment of the very young to see the effects of that nourishment on the development of that individual. Now, more than ever before, we have come to realize that the nutrient intake of the mother profoundly affects her child and that this effect extends even to the period before conception. The periconceptional nutrition effect on pregnancy outcome is shown in the occurrence of spina bifida in infants of mothers whose needs for folacin were not met even before pregnancy commenced. There may be other instances of nutrient effects on fetal development as well, and the reader will find these examples in the text.